For one of the most high-profile and stylish events in the world, London Fashion Week is remarkably accessible. If you can’t blag your way in as a fashion professional, journalist or Anna Wintour’s long-lost relative, you can still get a taste of the glamour that infects the city twice a year. London will be full of fashionable opportunities around 15 to 19 February, when the Autumn and Winter 2013 collections from British designers will be on show.
The closest you can get to the action is London Fashion Weekend, which uses the same catwalk at Somerset House for its runway shows, moving in a few days after Fashion Week has packed up. Inside the marquee in the central courtyard, shows will explore upcoming trends and individual designers. You can also browse the maze of mini showrooms, filled with cut-price designer clothing from classic British labels like Pringle of Scotland and Twenty8Twelve.
You can also emulate the jet-set lifestyle of the fashion elite by visiting foreign embassies dotted around the capital, who will promote their country’s emerging designers in the International Fashion Showcase exhibition. More than 110 designers are involved, representing countries as varied as Argentina, Jamaica, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Nigeria and Vietnam. Follow them on a stylish treasure hunt around the capital with this official map - collecting six stamps on the ‘passport’ enters you into a prize draw to win shopping vouchers or tickets to next season’s Fashion Weekend.
There are also plenty of unofficial events worth visiting – the first ever British Plus Size Fashion Weekend has caused a media stir and will celebrate bodies of size 16 and above, and the designers who are inspired by them. It should offer some refreshing and challenging perspectives, not to mention realistically-sized models. Other alternative events include frock-swapping and upcycling lessons at Forest Hill Fashion Week, while retro cocktail bar Bourne & Hollingsworth is hosting Fashion Retrospective, a vintage fashion show at the Bloomsbury Ballroom which plans to reveal the influence the old has on the new.
And away from the runways, there is the nightlife, much of which you can buy a ticket for. London radio station Capital FM is holding a Fashion Week closing party with design collective London Ethnic at Village Underground in Shoreditch. It’s in aid of the Help a Capital Child charity and some models represented Team GB at the London Olympics. The May Fair is the official London Fashion Week hotel, and has created a range of decadent cocktails inspired by shoes to celebrate. Even if you don’t make a party, a trip to one of central London’s bars could well reward you with a celeb sighting.
Here are the dates for your diary:
- London Fashion Weekend: 21-24 February at Somerset House
- International Showcase Exhibition: 1-28 February at embassies around London
- British Plus Size Fashion Weekend: 15-16 Februrary at Shoreditch Town Hall
- Forest Hill Fashion Week: 15-19 February around Forest Hill
- Fashion Retrospective: 16 February at Bloomsbury Ballroom
- Help a Capital Child Party: 19 February at Village Underground in Shoreditch